November 27, 2018 – The Philippine Navy (PN) announced the arrival in the first quarter of 2019 of its first-ever anti-submarine warfare helicopters.
In an interview, Navy spokesman Commander Jonathan Zata said with the arrival of two Agusta Westland AW159 Wildcat helicopters, the PN will now have the capability of securing not only the country’s surface waters but also underwater.
He said the helicopters which are equipped with sensors and weapon systems, can track/detect and counter submarines.
“It’s a big leap essentially dahil (because) with this capability we now have this tool or we have this important capability of securing not only the surface waters that we have but also underwater,” Zata said.
“We can detect submarines, we can detect underwater vehicle and also the capability to engage underwater vehicle within our territory. So it’s a tremendous leap, it’s a big leap from our current inventory.”
“They (helicopters) would be equipped with torpedoes and that torpedoes are essentially for submarines and also for surface targets,” he added.
Zata said once the helicopters arrive, it will be temporarily housed or be part of the Navy’s air wing detachment.
He said the helicopters could be temporarily housed in their frigates such as the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16).
BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF-16) is a frigate in the Philippine Navy and the second ship of the Gregorio del Pilar class
“With the current inventory natin dun muna sya iha-house (it will be house) as part of the air wing detachment. But it is intended also dun sa ating parating na (to our arriving) frigates this coming 2020,” Zata said.
“I mentioned the onboard air detachment whenever the aircraft is deployed,” he said.
Zata said at present PN ships don’t have anti-submarine capabilities.
“Currently wala pa (none) Wala pa tayong (We don’t have) scanners, wala tayong (we don’t have) equipment that can detect underwater vehicles within our territorial waters, and these helicopters would be equipped with sensors that can detect underwater vessels and can manage or, and can engage if needed,” he said.
When asked of the possibility that the helicopters will be deployed at the West Philippine Sea, Zata said that will depend on the wisdom of the general headquarters.
“As force provider we can provide the doctrines, we can provide tactics, techniques and procedure but eventually the deployment of it would have to be dependent on the wisdom of general headquarters,” Zata said.
“Remember, ano lang kami (we are only) force provider. We maintain the force, we train the force and when general headquarters has a requirement of force package we can recommend capabilities that can be suited to the force requirement of the unified command,” he added.